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Undercooked Food


shelora
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I am not sure where all this undercooking stuff started.  I sometimes think much of it was born out of laziness on the part of some kitchens, playing on the ignorance of many Americans when it comes to food, and our collective will to follow trends whether we like them or not.  It used to be that the restaurant kitchens cooked food that satisfied the patrons tastes.  More and more, we see patrons eating food in order to satisfy the chefs tastes.  I'm convinced people will continue to patronize a celebrity chef's restaurants just to say they ate there, regardless of the food they are served and whether they truly like the food.  There needs to be a happy balance here, and I fear it isn't happening. 

Um, you're joking, right?

Firstly, let me address the "laziness" issue. When cooking foods to rare temperatures or cooking vegetables lightly, the opposite of laziness is actually the case. If someone is ordering his steak medium rare, he's going to be able to tell how fresh that steak is, and how good the quality of the meat, and he'll probably be more aware of whether you cooked it properly, with the correct amount of doneness on both sides, so you have to watch the cooking more carefully, to make sure it's even. And a mid-rare steak gets cold faster than a well-done one, so it's important to make sure a food runner is immediately available, so that it won't be sent back. A customer who orders his steak well, however, isn't going to see as much of the marbeling of the meat or any evidence that this particular steak is on its last day of servability, so you might as well grab the steak from the back of the drawer, throw it on the grill and leave it there until you're confident that it's had the living daylights cooked out of it. Easy-peasy. Same thing with vegetables. If you're just going to stew them for hours on end, most people won't be able to tell the difference between fresh and frozen by that point, so why bother with the difficult stuff? Overcooking is so much easier than undercooking.

And as far as chefs dictating what customers eat, well, I'm literally aghast. I work at 2 restaurants currently, one of them ultra nice and the other medium nice, and let me tell you, customers have absolutely no compunction about telling even the best chefs how they want their steaks cooked and how they want the menu rearranged to their liking. People will walk into a very exclusive restaurant and ask for something that's exactly like what the Olive Garden serves, if that's what they bloody well feel like having, and most chefs I know will actually do their best to meet those requests, even if it means running to Kroger for ranch dressing.

It's a pretty competitive market out there for restaurants right now, and I feel safe saying that people are either getting what they want, or they're going elsewhere.

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I agree with the food tutor that the fad of uncooked food probably began as a way for the customer to judge that the quality of his steak and the chef cooking it (although I do like the laziness idea!) and now it has become stylish, especially in upscale restaurants, where I have even heard of raw eggs served right on top of dishes!

I don’t understand how anyone can eat that, I can hardly stand a slightly giggly white in my omelet.

anyway, I hope that the idea that food is always at its max flavor when raw fades out, and that meat is cooked to ensure flavor and safety.

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I agree with the food tutor that the fad of uncooked food probably began as a way for the customer to judge that the quality of his steak and the chef cooking it (although I do like the laziness idea!) and now it has become stylish, especially in upscale restaurants, where I have even heard of raw eggs served right on top of dishes!

I don’t understand how anyone can eat that, I can hardly stand a slightly giggly white in my omelet.

anyway, I hope that the idea that food is always at its max flavor when raw fades out, and that meat is cooked to ensure flavor and safety.

You're joking, right? Raw eggs are quite properly served on many dishes. Steak tartare springs to mind, as does Caesar salad. It's only relatively recently that we've become so very paranoid about raw eggs.

As for food being at it's max flavor when raw fades out, that's just a matter of opinion, isn't it? I repeat from my post above - when I ask for my meat rare I mean RARE and I'm not kidding.

Stephanie Kay

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'Seared' tuna is a real pet peeve of mine.

Don't get me wrong: I love raw fish. Tuna sashimi - great. But if you're going to cook tuna, then for God's sake, cook it! Restaurants seem to have collectively forgotten that tuna can be cooked through and be delicious. A tuna steak cooked through has a wonderful, smooth, fatty mouthfeel, and an umami flavour that in my opinion beats that of the same fish 'seared' (read: uncooked apart from a tiny, charcoal-flavoured layer).

I think there's a comment on Matthew Fort's "Eating Up Italy" where he notes that the Sicilians don't 'sear' tuna. And neither, from my limited experience, do Andalusian cooks. Middlebrow British and American chefs would do well to note... :sad:

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'Seared' tuna is a real pet peeve of mine.

Don't get me wrong: I love raw fish. Tuna sashimi - great. But if you're going to cook tuna, then for God's sake, cook it!

I need to stay away from this thread. I think people in London can hear me screaming from here.

Oh, the crimes against food.

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I need to stay away from this thread. I think people in London can hear me screaming from here.

Oh, the crimes against food.

Crimes, shmimes...

This is typically the reaction I get when I admit to liking cooked tuna. Please believe me - I don't like tuna that is dessicated or over-cooked; and I'd like to think I'm not a total philistine: I like rare steak and steak tartare. But I (like, it would appear, generations of Sicilians) think that tuna benefits from being cooked rather than half-hearted heated on both sides... well, shall we say medium to spare your sensibilities? :wink:

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Crimes, shmimes...

This is typically the reaction I get when I admit to liking cooked tuna. Please believe me - I don't like tuna that is dessicated or over-cooked; and I'd like to think I'm not a total philistine: I like rare steak and steak tartare. But I (like, it would appear, generations of Sicilians) think that tuna benefits from being cooked rather than half-hearted heated on both sides... well, shall we say medium to spare your sensibilities?  :wink:

Well, it's just a matter of the quality of tuna you're using, for me. I once managed a restaurant that served a fully-cooked tuna steak, seasoned in a spicy marinade, grilled and plated over black beans with rice. It was a pretty good dish, but certainly nothing like what you'd get in a fancier restaurant. Sometimes people would ask me to serve their tuna steaks medium rare, and I would have to go out to the table to explain to them that the quality of tuna we were using was simply not the sort of thing that you'd want to serve seared. You can tell from examining the tuna in its raw state by the color of the flesh. Bright, red tuna tends toward the higher grades, and the greyer flesh is a lower grade of tuna, but that doesn't mean that the fish is not fresh, mind you. It's just not the cut you're going to sell to a sushi bar or an upscale restaurant for tartare.

But if you take the two cuts of tuna - one high grade and one lower grade - and cook them both all the way through, they will be indistinguishable from each other, other than the fact that you paid at least 4 times as much for the higher grade cut.

So if you want a fully cooked piece of tuna, please don't go to a fancy restaurant that has gone to the trouble of getting the highest grade available and have it cooked through. That just brings a tear to my eye thinking about it.

But then again, it's your money and you can do what you want with it.

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Uh . . . I have to disagree that the quality of the tuna should determine how it is cooked. I have been fortunate enough to be on a sportfishing boat that, from time to time, lands a yellow fin. AND, we often had a sushi chef aboard. (The guy was a fishing freak.) Tuna steaks often hit the fry pan to be cooked to perfection. (We had a rather complete galley.) I would not trade that experience for anything. I will say that of the various gourmands aboard, there were two preferences: the belly meat raw and the steaks "just done."

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Uh . . . I have to disagree that the quality of the tuna should determine how it is cooked. I have been fortunate enough to be on a sportfishing boat that, from time to time, lands a yellow fin. AND, we often had a sushi chef aboard. (The guy was a fishing freak.) Tuna steaks often hit the fry pan to be cooked to perfection. (We had a rather complete galley.) I would not trade that experience for anything. I will say that of the various gourmands aboard, there were two preferences: the belly meat raw and the steaks "just done."

I don't understand how that's a disagreement, given that there are different grades of tuna that can be cut from a single fish, and the preferences stated above seem to indicate that the belly meat - a higher grade - should be eaten raw, but the lesser quality portions should be cooked.

The fact that the fish was just caught doesn't have anything to do with the grades I was talking about. I was just looking at a very fresh tuna yesterday that was being cut for sale, but in this case the entire fish was of a grade that I'd recommend for grilling until cooked through.

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I liked tuna seared and raw, and I don't mind it cooked, although I agree that if it's high grade it's a waste to cook it. One thing that does bug me about the searing craze is that it leads to some places serving "seared" tuna that's left on too long so that it's fully cooked in the outer two thirds and raw on the inside. Not like cooked tuna with pink in the middle (which would be OK), but something striped so that it looks like a piece of bacon and is partly fully cooked and partly raw. The cooked part tastes very blah and it's a weird combination of tastes and textures.

At this point, I never order fish seared unless I am absolutely sure the place means it when they say "seared."

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The TYPE of tuna can also dictate the preparation. Blue fin and Yellowfin are great raw all the way to fully cooked. Albacore, on the other hand , while some may eat it raw, is I think far better off being cooked to MR at the least, medium more so. The whole seared rare fashion is relatively new phenom in the west.

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I need to stay away from this thread. I think people in London can hear me screaming from here.

Oh, the crimes against food.

Crimes, shmimes...

This is typically the reaction I get when I admit to liking cooked tuna. Please believe me - I don't like tuna that is dessicated or over-cooked; and I'd like to think I'm not a total philistine: I like rare steak and steak tartare. But I (like, it would appear, generations of Sicilians) think that tuna benefits from being cooked rather than half-hearted heated on both sides... well, shall we say medium to spare your sensibilities? :wink:

The whole seared, but basically raw tuna fad made me nuts. I hated it. It was like eating lukewarm sashimi (blech). I'm Korean, it's either raw or cooked. My husband is Mediterranean, tuna cooked through, he's also a French chef, so sometimes it can be a tartare. The thing that bugged me the most about this stupid trend was that proponents of it acted like it was really the only and best way with tuna. Puhleeze! I've been eating sashimi and sushi since I was knee high.

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Well, it's just a matter of the quality of tuna you're using

Quality of the cook/chef.

The TYPE of tuna can also dictate the preparation. Blue fin and Yellowfin are great raw all the way to fully cooked. Albacore, on the other hand , while some may eat it raw, is I think far better off being cooked to MR at the least, medium more so. The whole seared rare fashion is relatively new phenom in the west.

True... But a fully cooked braised tuna is pretty tasty and moist.

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Yep, another one of those "restaurants don't know what they are doing" threads.

Most vegitables should have a certain amount of tooth to them. If you like yours softer, please tell your server when you order. Is it that difficult or should the chef be able to exert mental telepathy to determine that table 16 likes their veggies over cooked?

There are also a plethora of all you can eat buffets that can accomodate those who like mushy veggies. In fact, I once won a twenty dollar bet for chocking down an entire monkey dish of broccoli at Furrs.

If you don't like seared tuna, don't order it, or tell your server how you want it cooked. Problem solved. It is like going to a sushi bar and complaining that the fish is underdone. Or it is like going to a Porsche dealer and complaining that they don't sell mini vans. I was serving seared tuna ten years ago, and sold out of it almost every night. Someone likes it.

If you like your pork well....order it that way.

Are you seeing a trend here?

You are the customer. Tell the server what you want. In most cases, you will be accomodated. If you have to change the preperation of every item on the menu, there is a chance that you are in the wrong restaurant to begin with.

By the way, I can't believe that there would be someone with "Chef" in their name that would be shocked by raw eggs. They have been serving runny eggs in every diner in America for how long. Raw eggs are not a trend. They are tradition from the greasy spoon to the fine restaurant.

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If you don't like seared tuna, don't order it, or tell your server how you want it cooked. Problem solved. It is like going to a sushi bar and complaining that the fish is underdone.

We don't order it. But my wife and I were "exposed' to it for other reasons. I commiserate with your point of view Retriever. This forum has it's slants, but it is open in other ways. I know of a pro forum where industry insiders have a great time. :wink:

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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If you don't like seared tuna, don't order it, or tell your server how you want it cooked.  Problem solved.

That is, in a nutshell, the problem. The people who go to restaurants and don't understand what the word "seared" implies. Basically, you can have your tuna fully cooked, or cooked medium, or whatever you want, but it is really a pain in the butt and a half to have to explain to every single human being who crosses the threshold of the restaurant what "seared" means.

If I had a nickel for every person who ordered our "seared" "sashimi" tuna salad, and then backed away from the table when it was presented going, "Eewwww! I can't eat RAW fish! I didn't know it was going to be RAW!" well, then, I'd have a heck of a lot of nickels.

And while I was sitting on my mountain of nickels, I'd chuck copies of Webster's at all the idiots who don't know how to read menus. :wink:

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The whole seared, but basically raw tuna fad made me nuts. I hated it. It was like eating lukewarm sashimi (blech). I'm Korean, it's either raw or cooked. My husband is Mediterranean, tuna cooked through, he's also a French chef, so sometimes it can be a tartare.  The thing that bugged me the most about this stupid trend was that proponents of it acted like it was really the only and best way with tuna. Puhleeze! I've been eating sashimi and sushi since I was knee high.

Now I'm curious about what the history of the seared tuna thing is in the US. My first experience with it was as bar food in Hawaii, not something chi-chi. It was served pretty much like sashimi and I thought it was delicious; it just had this edge that was a little crispy. It was not cold to be sure, but I often let my sashimi come closer to room temperature anyway.

I wonder if part of the popularity of seared tuna is how much is looks like rare steak with a sear on it. My boyfriend wants nothing to do with sushi or sashimi, but he's a steak eater and seared tuna looks normal to him if it's red enough. He won't go out of his way to order it but he will eat a few pieces.

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And while I was sitting on my mountain of nickels, I'd chuck copies of Webster's at all the idiots who don't know how to read menus.

I'm one of those idiots. All of the variations of "jus" for instance????? Parsley jus, for example 'cause parsley gives off a lot of juice, I'm so stupid that even though I'm a native speaker of French and a classically trained chef I'm still lost and dazed when it comes to the use of French culinary terms in the States. I'm looking forward to all the PM's.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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The whole seared, but basically raw tuna fad made me nuts. I hated it. It was like eating lukewarm sashimi (blech). I'm Korean, it's either raw or cooked. My husband is Mediterranean, tuna cooked through, he's also a French chef, so sometimes it can be a tartare.  The thing that bugged me the most about this stupid trend was that proponents of it acted like it was really the only and best way with tuna. Puhleeze! I've been eating sashimi and sushi since I was knee high.

Now I'm curious about what the history of the seared tuna thing is in the US. My first experience with it was as bar food in Hawaii, not something chi-chi. It was served pretty much like sashimi and I thought it was delicious; it just had this edge that was a little crispy. It was not cold to be sure, but I often let my sashimi come closer to room temperature anyway.

I wonder if part of the popularity of seared tuna is how much is looks like rare steak with a sear on it. My boyfriend wants nothing to do with sushi or sashimi, but he's a steak eater and seared tuna looks normal to him if it's red enough. He won't go out of his way to order it but he will eat a few pieces.

I'll do some research. For now I'm almost sure that it was an Cali thing, most likely LA....

Btw Tess, I appreciate your posts.

Edited by touaregsand (log)
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It just seems incredibly unnatural to have eggs and chicken together.

Chicken salad doesn't seem all that unnatural...(?)

Chicken and eggs? I'm thinking of Trid. Ancient food. It's considered poor man's bistilla, apparently the favorite of the Mohamed (PBUH)

Chicken and eggs combo, been around for a long time.

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It just seems incredibly unnatural to have eggs and chicken together.

Chicken salad doesn't seem all that unnatural...(?)

Chicken and eggs? I'm thinking of Trid. Ancient food. It's considered poor man's bistilla, apparently the favorite of the Mohamed (PBUH)

Chicken and eggs combo, been around for a long time.

I had not thought of that - chicken salad. What was going through my mind was an omelette that I saw this morning with chicken. I don't know - the baby and the mother on the same plate ? :blink:

Neil Wyles

Hamilton Street Grill

www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com

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What was going through my mind was an omelette that I saw this morning with chicken. I don't know - the baby and the mother on the same plate ? :blink:

There actually is a popular Japanese dish called Oyako Donburi, which translates as "Parent and Child Bowl." It consists of a chicken-and-egg omelet served with a sauce over a bowl of rice. :smile:

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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I'm one of those idiots. All of the variations of "jus" for instance????? Parsley jus, for example 'cause parsley gives off a lot of juice,  I'm so stupid that even though I'm a native speaker of French and a classically trained chef I'm still lost and dazed  when it comes to the use of French culinary terms in the States. I'm looking forward to all the PM's.

I've never heard of parsley jus. Is that a California thing?

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